A NATURAL SPIRITED BEAUTY
I will never forget the day I first met Mamacita, one of Oman’s leading influencers. I was attending the Amouage Open House, tucked away in a luxurious villa, overlooking a bright cobalt cove. All day long, the most prestigious clients of the Omani-based brand flocked in, yet there was one who stood out, fair haired, exquisitely dressed, with a glance that could bring Troy to its knees once more. We exchanged smiles and only spoke a few words, but I was sure this wouldn’t be the last time our paths would cross. It was a joy to meet again for an open-hearted discussion on her one-of-a-kind editorial photo-op for Narcisse.
1. First of all, for the readers who do not know your story, how did Areej (Mamacita’s real name) become Mamacita?
It all started in 2014. I almost died during an open- heart surgery and it made me think: “Well, I’m alive, so let me live a different life from now on”. I always loved make-up but my pages at the time were all private. Even my followers were somewhat exclusive until one of them, an MBC Style editor, tweeted about my account, reposting some pictures and from that day on, my account burst, and I decided to become more public.
2. Were there any challenges to becoming an influencer?
Well I didn’t just decide to do it overnight, it unfolded. I was doing it because I love doing it, and I’m the kind of person that doesn’t want to have to ask permission to my boss to go on vacation. I need to be my own boss. When people would ask “what do you do?” I’d answer, “I’m just enjoying my life and people like seeing that”. Now, I have followers from everywhere because I don’t want to be limited to Oman, what I want is to represent Oman when I’m outside of Oman.
Photographer BAARD LUNDE // Creative Direction AZADEH ZORAGHI // Stylist JUNE NAKAMOTO @shotview // Photo Assistant KUMAR CHAND // Production MUJAHID ALMALKI // Styling Assistant AMY KONÉ
3. And how exactly do you do that?
By being the Omani who goes to events where Omanis don’t usually go.
4. Is there a pressure that comes with it?
Not pressure, it’s something to be proud of. A lot of people don’t know where Oman is, I want people to know Oman for itself, not because it’s close to Dubai. I want them to know that we’re a very nice, welcoming people. I think it’s in our blood. If any expat comes to Oman, they’ll always feel at home, we don’t want them to come and feel like strangers.
5. Now, about the shoot. This was somewhat of a stretch for you, wasn’t it?
It was something I’d never done before. It was my first time appearing in a magazine like Narcisse and Azadeh Zoraghi (Editor in Chief of Narcisse) stressed that she wanted a very natural feeling, with as little make-up as possible. What’s interesting however, is that they respected the Omani culture, which was very important for me and for my audience.
6. Was it challenging in any way?
It was. I have always been insecure to go out without make up, and if I take pictures, I usually apply filters and such, but this photoshoot took me out of my comfort zone and made me do something different.
7. Why were you insecure?
Because I suffered from acne and rosacea when I was younger. A week before the photoshoot, my dermatologist told me that I should avoid the sun because my skin was too sensitive, which is why we had someone carry an umbrella over me during the shooting.
8. So how did you feel about this in the end?
I was very happy because I never thought I would be doing it.
9. Would you say Mamacita has helped you overcome challenges?
Yes, I was insecure before Mamacita. I was one of those people who would never put a profile picture, not even on BBM and today, if I google my name, pictures of me will pop up. A lot of things changed for me after 2014.
10. Because of the surgery?
Yes. The thing is, they stopped my heart, took it out, then put it back in and I think a different version of me came out of it. It is like when you try to compare your personality before and after an important event in your life. People change. I believe in spirituality a lot, I know that whatever happens in my life, even my struggles, are meant to be. We learn lessons, we reason, and I think that everything bad that happens in your life is a reflection of who you are so that, once you change who you are, your life will change too. Life does not happen to you; it happens through you. What happened in 2014 was a big leap for me. That is when I started loving myself more, started posting more pictures of myself, I basically stopped caring about what others would say or think about me.. I do believe we are all somehow connected and that there is a higher power. I am a Muslim, but I respect all religions. When you have faith, you can do whatever you want, nothing is impossible anymore.
11. Have you always been spiritual?
In a way. You know, I was interested in astronomy from a very young age. I still have a huge telescope at home that I use all the time, especially during full moons. It is interesting to look into what exists beyond us.
12. Allow me to jump from astronomy to astrology but, out of curiosity, what’s your star sign?
I am a Scorpio. I was born on Oman’s national day, so for 35 years, my birthday cake has always been the flag of Oman.
13. Some would say it was somewhat of a prophecy...
In some ways, it was.